“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.”
‘Tis the chorus to “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, a song first published in 1912 at a time when songs paying tribute to a romanticized Ireland were numerous and popular both in Great Britain and the United States.
Why are the Irish so special? Let me provide you with just a few of the many reasons:
- It has been said that the Irish “saved civilization”. That’s kind of a big deal, right?
- If you don’t believe #1, then read Thomas Cahill’s best-selling book. Keep in mind that Mr. Cahill is of Irish descent too, so he may be a little bias.
- There have been many notable Irish people. The 6th century Irish monk Columbanus is regarded as one of the “fathers of Europe”, along with Bono of course.
- Then there is the leprechaun, the mythical creature of Irish folklore who is said to have possessed certain magical powers.
- Let’s not forget the University of Notre Dame, one of our nation’s top institutions of higher learning and the home of the “Fighting Irish”.
- Finally, unlike many nationalities, we Irish also have our very own holiday – yep, you guessed it … Saint Patrick’s Day!
Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17th. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland.
Little is known about Saint Patrick’s early life; however, according to folklore, he used the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. This may help to explain why the shamrock is so prominent in images about Ireland and Saint Patrick’s Day.
Now, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention some of the more notable Carroll Clan members of Irish descent as well. Here are just a few …
- Charles Carroll, was the first United States Senator for Maryland, and signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll Hall at the University of Notre Dame is named in his honor. He was also a cousin of both Daniel and John.
- Daniel Carroll, U.S. Congressman, is considered to be one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was also one of five men to sign both the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation.
- John Carroll, was the younger brother of Daniel, and the first Roman Catholic bishop and archbishop in the United States. He is also known as the founder of Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in the U.S..
There is something magical (other than the leprechaun) about being of Irish lineage, and Saint Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays we look forward to each year. Many others agree; both Irish and non-Irish revel in the Saint Patrick’s Day parades and celebration. In fact, green ribbons and shamrocks were worn to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day as far back as the early 17th century.
Like many families of Irish descent, we will celebrate this March 17th with the traditional Irish dinner of corn beef, red potatoes and cabbage, and of course a few mugs of green beer.
May Irish eyes smile upon you this Saint Patrick’s Day and throughout the year.
“For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright
Let us smile each chance we get.”
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day Everyone!!!
COPYRIGHT © 2015-22 John Carroll